Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Response to NBC News Coverage of Florida 15 Passenger Van Deaths "Are Large Vans Safe?" WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

ATTENTION: Dave Elias, Investigative Reporter, NBC 2 email

RE: Your report, "Are Large Vans Safe?"

Our Canadian Van Angels advocacy group has actively campaigned to educate the public, change regulations and ban the use of 15-passenger vans for all student and small group transport for over 5 years.

The Van Angels are a group of mothers who lost sons in two separate 15-passenger van accidents and have dedicated their independent website to honour their beautiful Boys and to save other lives.

As safety advocates we have educated ourselves on the history and current status of 15-passenger vans through extensive research and active lobbying at all governmental levels. The recent tragedy in Florida is not only upsetting but extremely infuriating as the carnage continues and no one will take responsibility for these 'death traps'. Yes, they were built over 50 years ago to carry cargo on the floor and when the auto manufacturers chose to install seats and windows, they did not redesign the vans for human transport! It was a marketing decision to create an inexpensive mode of transport that was larger than a mini-van and smaller than a larger bus. It was basically 'profit over people'.

Our Van Angels group pressured Transport Canada (your NHTSA in the US) to test the safety of the vans. As far as we are concerned they did not reveal anything new as it is pure physics and design that determines how the 15-passenger van handles in real-world emergency situations (and as far as we know , physics hasn't changed.) The Safety Review was an exercise in electronic stability control standard testing in certain multi-passenger vehicles. But ESC is not fail-proof and does not help in certain handling manoeuvres. It is a good safety standard but there are approximately 25,000 registered 15-passenger vans on Canadian roads and government documents show that almost 80% do not have ESC! Both industry and government praise this safety addition but fail to mention all the vehicles on our roads that are lacking this feature.

How many in the US are pre-ESC vehicles? What was the make and year of the 15-passenger van involved in this recent tragic church group incident? This all makes a difference in the argument.

I urge you to take a look at our website as we have done our homework and we know the truth. Please feel free to contact me.


Stella Gurr (Michael's Mom)
Nanaimo, BC